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Australian Market Advances

The Australian stock market is advancing on Monday despite the negative cues from Wall Street Friday as data released over the weekend showed that China's factory activity returned to growth in November for the first time in seven months. Investors shrugged off weak local economic data.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is rising 33.00 points or 0.48 percent to 6,879.00, while the broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 31.00 points or 0.45 percent to 6,979.00. Australian stocks closed modestly lower on Friday.

The big four banks are higher. Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are advancing almost 1 percent each, while ANZ Banking is adding 0.6 percent and National Australia Bank is rising 0.2 percent.

Among utilities, APA Group is gaining almost 3 percent, Meridian Energy is rising almost 2 percent, and AGL Energy is higher by almost 1 percent.

The major miners are mostly lower. Fortescue Metals is declining 0.6 percent and and BHP is edging down 0.1 percent, while Rio Tinto is rising 0.2 percent.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is advancing more than 1 percent, while Newcrest Mining is lower by more than 2 percent.

Oil stocks are weak after crude oil prices tumbled more than 5 percent on Friday. Oil Search is losing almost 1 percent, Santos is lower by 0.7 percent and Woodside Petroleum is down 0.6 percent.

Woolworths Group has been hit was an employee class-action lawsuit alleging it underpaid at least 5,700 staff by as much as A$300 million over nine years. However, the supermarket giant's shares are adding 0.4 percent.

In economic news, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed that the manufacturing sector in Australia fell into contraction in November, with a seasonally adjusted Performance of Manufacturing Index Score of 48.1. That's down from 51.6 in October and it slides beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. It also represents a three-year low for the index.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the total number of building permits issued in Australia was down a seasonally adjusted 8.1 percent on month in October, coming in at 13,049. That missed forecasts for a decline of 1.0 percent following the 7.2 percent gain in September.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is unchanged from Friday against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6764.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Friday in an abbreviated trading session as traders cashed in on recent gains amid concerns rising tensions between the U.S. and China over the situation in Hong Kong could impact the ongoing trade talks. Trading activity remained relatively light, however, with many traders still away from their desks following the Thanksgiving Day holiday on Thursday.

The Dow fell 112.59 points or 0.4 percent to 28,051.41, the Nasdaq slid 39.70 points or 0.5 percent to 8,665.47 and the S&P 500 dropped 12.65 points or 0.4 percent to 3,140.98.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Friday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.9 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both edged down by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil prices tumbled on Friday amid concerns rising tensions between the U.S. and China over the situation in Hong Kong could impact the ongoing trade talks. The resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi also contributed to the steep drop. WTI crude for January delivery plunged $2.94 or 5.1 percent to $55.17 a barrel.

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